DAVIE, Fla. — Christmas may have already come and gone, but Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch on Thursday gave the Orange Bowl an unexpected gift that jolted instant life into what had previously been perceived as a somewhat punchless matchup between the Huskies and Florida State.
Thanks to his sharp, quick-witted and confident tongue, Lynch brought a little drama to Tuesday’s contest at Sun Life Stadium. If the Seminoles’ defensive coaching staff hadn’t yet dusted off its bulletin board ahead of the showdown, the group may be preparing to do so now.
“They’re fast, they’re physical,” Lynch said about FSU’s defense in a story published Thursday afternoon by Sporting News, “but they haven’t seen anything like our offense.”
Those comments weren’t even the ones that set social media ablaze with shock and confusion. The words that turned most Seminoles fans’ heads were the following: “We plan on wearing them down. In the fourth quarter, we plan to have them on their knees — and then just keep pounding away.
“They’re just like us. They’re human, too. If you cut them, they bleed.”
Lynch said all of that to the Sporting News’ Steve Greenberg before the Huskies left DeKalb, Ill. on Wednesday. After Northern Illinois’ practice Thursday, he smiled to reporters and acknowledged saying them. He and his teammates, however, “are not cocky at all,” he cautioned. “We’re confident.”
When confronted by reporters about Lynch’s comments less than a half hour after they were publicized, the Seminoles took a rather soft, non-controversial approach with any rebuttals.
“They’re competitors like us,” FSU outside linebacker Christian Jones said, smiling. “He has a lot of faith in his team, and we have a lot of faith in our team. … People are always going to say something (like that), but it’s just the competitive nature coming out.”
When asked about the comments, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher dismissed them even easier than Jones.
“We’re going to have our hands full with them,” Fisher said before moving on to another question.
Instead of taking Fisher’s stance and attempting to distance himself from Lynch’s words, Huskies coach Rod Carey stood behind them. When asked about the apparent high level of his team’s confidence, Carey said he felt his junior quarterback handled himself appropriately.
“What’s he supposed to say? ‘Hey, we’re just hoping we get a first down, a yard or two?’ ” Carey said. “I mean, come on. That’s the confidence. These guys expect that. And we’re doing everything we can to make that happen.”
There are disparities between the teams, including those on their offensive and defensive lines. The Huskies came into the season with one starter on their defensive line weighing more than 300 pounds. FSU entered with its entire defensive tackle rotation teetering past that mark. A standout true freshman defensive end even toppled 300 pounds before losing about 20 of them to get in better playing shape.
FSU’s offensive line holds a greater than 50-pound advantage over Northern Illinois’ defensive line.
Conventional wisdom — and the Las Vegas betting lines — also aren’t on Northern Illinois’ side. The Huskies are a 13.5-point underdog to the Seminoles.
Lynch’s comments aside, Fisher believes his team will nonetheless be motivated for this game.
“They’ve got good football players,” he said. “That’s why you play the games. We’ll gameplan and do the things we need to do and they’ll gameplan and do the things they need to do, and come in about a week, we’ll find out who’s right and who’s wrong.”
(South Florida Sun Sentinel reporter Steve Gorten contributed to this report.)
©2012 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
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